The National Memorial Arboretum, within the National Forest in Staffordshire, is declaring a climate emergency and making four ambitious pledges on sustainability to help safeguard the 150-acre woodland and garden site for future generations. In recent years, the site has not been a stranger to extreme weather events, having suffered from flooding and droughts, which have caused damage to some of the diverse habitats and have occasionally prevented visitors from accessing some areas of the site and performing Acts of Remembrance.
acutely aware of the impact of climate change, having direct experience of
extreme weather events in recent years,” said Andy Ansell, Head of Estates at
the National Memorial Arboretum. “As we continue to nurture an inspirational,
world-class setting, we will adopt and advocate for ethical and sustainable
practices that ensure we have a positive impact on the natural environment. As
custodians of a beautiful green space that is home to hundreds of memorials, we
must embrace all opportunities for sustainable estate management, safeguarding
this living memorial for future generations."
This month, the Arboretum is participating in ‘No Mow May’ across areas of the site, an initiative that allows grass and wildflowers to flourish, providing habitats and forage for early season pollinators.
'No Mow May' was welcomed by Master Beekeeper Stuart Roberts who has kept bees at the site since 2011.
“There is usually a dearth of forage around the end of May and this is known as the 'June gap',” said Stuart. “The 'No Mow May' initiative is great because it will produce some flowers in this period when there is usually very little for the bees and other pollinators to go after.”
The new sustainability pledges are an integral part of the National Memorial Arboretum’s ambitious vision for modern Remembrance, launched to coincide with the 20th anniversary since the Arboretum opened to the public. They include efforts to reduce the site’s carbon footprint, encourage the use of public transport, a commitment to be an ethical buyer and plans to work with partners to encourage sustainable living.
“Our pledges extend to all aspects of our operation,” said Mark Ellis, Head of Visitor Experience at the National Memorial Arboretum. “We are committed to maintaining a first-class visitor experience while reducing our environmental impact and we know this is a priority for many of our visitors.”
While the Arboretum’s Restaurant was closed due to coronavirus restrictions, the Foodservices team took the opportunity to start delivering on plans for a more sustainable food offering. Since January 2021, all disposable items and packaging are 100% plastic free, biodegradable or will be responsibly recycled, as part of a vision for zero waste to landfill. The menus have also been refreshed to offer more locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, a greater number of dishes feature plant-based options, and the team have developed food handling procedures to help meet a target of a 50% reduction in food-waste.
“In partnership with our suppliers, we will continue to enhance our record as an ethical buyer, aiming to source all products and services from ethical, inclusive and local sources whenever this is possible,” said Ellis. “We are also conscious of the environmental impact of journeys to the Arboretum and we will be campaigning for better public transport links allowing visitors to be less reliant on travel by car.”
The Arboretum’s declaration of a climate emergency and accompanying sustainability pledges have also been welcomed by the National Forest Company who launched their ‘Greenprint Vision’ in 2019 which set out a template to address the environmental, social and economic challenges resulting from climate change.
“The National Memorial Arboretum has its roots in sustainability as an exemplar of visionary quarry restoration within the National Forest,” said John Everitt, Chief Executive of the National Forest Company. “Regeneration is at the heart of our shared story and continues today in the planned Memorial Woodland, in memory of lives lost due to the pandemic as well as a celebration of community spirit. This new partnership will help heal a further tract of quarry workings, demonstrating how we are literally growing the future together, breathing new life and hope into the nation’s recovery.”
The government’s new England Trees Action Plan, for which the National Forest Company is a delivery partner, brings a further impetus to accelerating woodland creation and recognising the many benefits that trees and woods can bring to society.